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Facebook Looks to Add Pressure to Apple and Further Emphasize Concerns Around App Store Policies

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While there are many words that you could use to describe Facebook as a company, one that’s increasingly come to mind in recent times is  ‘opportunistic’.

Mostly, this applies to the way Facebook has copied competitors, or released similar functions to blunt their momentum, to varying effect. But Facebook is also now finding more ways to gently nudge decision-makers and policy groups into shifting their attention to where it would prefer, using media momentum and other discussions to highlight certain elements and debates that could ultimately benefit its organization.

Case in point – this week, Facebook has said that it tried to be more transparent with its users as to where any money raised via its new paid events tool will go, with respect to fees and charges implemented by the App Store, but was blocked from doing so by Apple.

Facebook events

As Facebook noted in the launch announcement for its new live events function:

“For transactions on the web, and on Android in countries where we have rolled out Facebook Pay, small businesses will keep 100% of the revenue they generate from paid online events. We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue.”

As reported by Reuters, Facebook now says that it tried to add a notice in-app to let users know that 30% of any funds they raise via their events will go to the App Store, but Apple refused on the grounds that it’s “irrelevant” information.

Facebook provided this statement to Reuters:

“Now more than ever, we should have the option to help people understand where money they intend for small businesses actually goes. Unfortunately Apple rejected our transparency notice around their 30% tax but we are still working to make that information available inside the app experience.”

It’s a gentle nudge, which adds just a little more pressure to Apple, which is already being scrutinized over its App Store policies, via an ongoing antitrust investigation in the US.

Apple’s also being confronted in a more public manner via a new battle with games developer Epic, which has taken on Apple direct over its imposed 30% cut of any in-app sales via iOS apps.

Indeed, Epic’s description of Apple’s behavior certainly seeks to make the case the Apple is using using its market dominance in an unfair, and restrictive, way:

Apple’s policies are so restrictive that they block gaming services like Microsoft xCloud, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, and Google Stadia from existing on iOS. Apple’s policies would have even blocked the World Wide Web if it had been invented after the iPhone, because Apple policies disallow running code not reviewed by Apple, accepting payments directly from customers, and accessing content not reviewed by Apple  all fundamental features of the web. These policies, together with Apple’s chilling enforcement strategy, directly impede innovation and invention of entirely new kinds of apps, games, and businesses.”

Epic, which is currently facing various restrictions in the App Store, is planning to challenge Apple in court, which could see Apple eventually forced to change its policy approach.

But then again, it probably won’t – Apple will argue that it’s free to manage its platform as it deems fit, and that it has the right to take a cut of payments. Developers don’t have to use its service, so it’s not forcing anyone to adhere to these rules.

But then again, with Apple controlling 50% of the mobile OS market in the US, choosing not to build apps for iOS is basically not an option for many developers.

The Epic case has added more weight to the ongoing antitrust concerns around the company – which brings us back to Facebook, and it’s opportunistic nudges.

With renewed emphasis on Apple’s policies, Facebook is now looking to add further pointers and notes to help regulators in their consideration of Apple’s approach.

  • As noted, Facebook has today pointed out that Apple rejected its call for in-app notifications of the App Store’s 30% cut on any payments, which not only sees creators taking less money for the work they put in, but also reduces transparency
  • Earlier this week, Facebook also noted that new data tracking measures in iOS 14, which is set for release next month, will essentially cripple its Audience Network on iOS. Which hurts SMBs: We understand that iOS 14 will hurt many of our developers and publishers at an already difficult time for businesses,” Facebook explained. “Many of these are small businesses that depend on ads to support their livelihood.”  
  • Earlier this month, Facebook launched a new version of its Facebook Gaming app on iOS, which has been significantly stripped down for iOS devices due to App Store rules which restrict which elements can be included in apps. 

Each of these cases is another reminder to regulators, another mark that highlights Apple’s rigid policies. And while Facebook isn’t taking such dramatic measures as Epic Games, and removing its apps and functions entirely, you can see how Facebook is using the additional media coverage around the Epic situation as a means to add more pressure to the situation, and Apple itself, amid the rising debate.

Interestingly, Facebook has also reportedly undertaken similar measures to sow fears about rising competitor TikTok.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in various meetings with US politicians last year, sought to highlight concerns about the app’s ties to the Chinese Government. These meetings were conducted before any official investigations into TikTok had been announced.

As per WSJ, Zuckerberg met with several senators, in which he pointed out TikTok’s obligations and links. Zuckerberg also made the same case to US President Donald Trump during a private dinner last October, emphasizing the threat that Chinese internet companies pose to American businesses.

The US Government announced a national security investigation into TikTok in November, just weeks after Zuckerberg’s push.

It’s interesting to note the timeline, and how that could relate to Facebook’s latest actions to stoke concerns with Apple’s policies. It also raises questions as to the potential connections between Facebook and US senators. Facebook has been notoriously lenient on posts from US President Donald Trump, for example, even going so far as to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on his controversial ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’ comment in relation to the #BlackLivesMatter protests.

As per Zuckerberg:

The President later posted again, saying that the original post was warning about the possibility that looting could lead to violence. We decided that this post, which explicitly discouraged violence, also does not violate our policies and is important for people to see.”

Which is interesting, right? Most other users would not get a chance to explain themselves, or provide more context. Of course, the US President is in a different category to regular users anyway, but it is worth noting the subtle connections and links that Facebook seems to increasingly be using to help advance its agenda in varying forms. 

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Housebound Jordanian football fan a social media star

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Amer Abu Nawas was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home

Amer Abu Nawas was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home – Copyright AFP Khalil MAZRAAWI

Kamal Taha

Having spent most of his life housebound due to a medical condition, Jordanian Amer Abu Nawas’s love of football has propelled him to social media stardom.

Offering analysis of matches from the leading European football leagues to almost a quarter of a million followers, his Facebook page — “HouseAnalyzer” in Arabic — has grown into what he describes as a “big family”.

The 27-year-old was born with osteogenesis, or brittle bone disease, a genetic condition hindering normal bone growth that has meant he rarely leaves his home in Zarqa, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from Jordan’s capital Amman.

“It is true that I have never played football in my life, and have never attended any match, but for me football is everything,” Abu Nawas told AFP.

With no schools in the country catering to his needs, Abu Nawas grew up spending much of his time watching football matches, analysing the teams and playing football video games.

“This always made me feel like it is taking me from this world to a different one,” he said.

His relatives noticed his passion and encouraged him to publish his match analyses online.

In 2017, he launched his Facebook account, which now counts more than 243,000 followers.

– ‘Reach people’ –

Filmed on a phone in his bedroom, Abu Nawas’s videos usually feature him wearing a football jersey, excitedly commenting on matches and news from the world of football.

Discussing leagues from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, he sometimes uses a football pitch-shaped board to explain tactical nuances.

One of Abu Nawas’s latest videos reached more than 1.4 million viewers and he has started posting on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.

He said he was grateful for modern technology allowing him to connect with so many people.

“From this room, from this small place isolated from the world, I was able to cross these walls, reach people, communicate with them, create content, and become what I am today,” he said.

He expressed sadness at sometimes seeing people attack each other in comments to his posts, and said his relationship with his followers was “like a family”.

“This family is growing day by day, and I hope it will reach as many followers as possible,” he added.

Abu Nawas’s own family do their best to provide him with a comfortable life.

He is the youngest of three brothers and his father is a doctor and his mother a pharmacist.

Inside his room are shelves with a PlayStation, a computer and plastic baskets keeping items he might need.

On his bed are phones, remote controls, headphones and a long stick used to reach distant items.

– ‘Not an obstacle’ –

“He has his own world, in a room with a temperature of 27 degrees to avoid cold and pneumonia. He can operate anything using the remote control,” his father Yussef told AFP.

He said his son has friends who occasionally visit.

“When he feels bad, they take him out for a tour in a minibus,” he said.

Abu Nawas lamented that in Jordan “nobody cares” about people with diseases like his, and said he wished he had had the opportunity to attend school.

“The conditions for people with special needs are catastrophic,” he said.

“I could not learn because there are no special schools for people like me.”

Last year, the organisers of the football World Cup invited him to attend the tournament in Qatar.

But due to travel difficulties linked to his condition, he arrived late and missed the matches he was scheduled to attend.

Even so, Abu Nawas said it was “the best 10 days of my life”.

“I know my condition, I learned to be content, and I will remain so,” he said.

“Disability need not be an obstacle to success.”

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Stand Out in a Crowded Market By Focusing on Organic Growth

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Stand Out in a Crowded Market By Focusing on Organic Growth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

My partner and I have seen the power of organic growth, even in a significantly competitive market like fashion. Our company, named BJ Positive Wear, was able to create something captivating to our customers within the last two years. I saw a complete transformation of our business in that time, all due to organic growth and the philosophies that we used to succeed.

Even though we had no idea what to expect, we decided from the very start to go in with organic growth being the ultimate goal. We did not benefit from outside help, so we chose to do this. We knew it would take longer, but in the end, every action brought us one step closer to where we are today.

I believe everybody could benefit from focusing on organic growth in a competitive market. If you’re unsure where to start, I will share with you what we did to achieve our success today.

Related: How Thinking Like a Designer Can Unlock Organic Growth

Why organic growth matters

You might not think much of it, but organic growth is the ultimate powerhouse for success. Organic growth is an important area of focus because it encompasses various areas of outreach and focuses on genuinely connecting with the audience you want to reach with your business.

Back in the days before the internet, organic growth was increasingly difficult. People had to do traditional marketing, create posters, billboards and more. Today, my partner goes on social media and shares content.

Social media has so much power, and many people I see and talk to in the business world don’t even grasp the full potential of it. For our firm, social media was what ultimately made us powerful and gave us the organic growth we wanted. You can have the same, and it comes with a few specific steps that we took as we embarked on our journey to success.

Create conversation

One of the essential tips is to create conversation. Organic growth is about engaging with the audience and making them feel a part of what you are doing. Your customer is the ultimate source of direction as a business. Even if you start with an idea for a specific product, you need to listen to the customer and see if what you have to offer is going to benefit them or not.

Create these conversations, and focus on what they say. Even if it is entirely different than what you might have expected, your customer is the ultimate tool for you to spearhead any decision to allow you to further expand and experience growth as a business.

Present value and transparency

Transparency is one of the most valuable tools in any business. If you want to succeed and capture any audience demographic’s attention, you need clarity in your messaging. You must lay out the value for your specific product or service to the audience. Customers like honesty. This is something that I have come to appreciate as a co-founder.

People want to hear exactly what you have to offer. So, don’t leave a mystery. Instead, present your value and be transparent in your messaging. This is what ultimately creates organic growth, but it also leads to another essential aspect of how we were able to achieve our success.

Related: How Transparency In Business Leads to Customer Growth and Loyalty

Differentiate and remain competitive

One of the ultimate tools people often do not tap into is the potential for every social media user today to understand their competition. Everything is publicly available, and there are no surprises. If you find yourself in a position where you are genuinely struggling to remain competitive, point out where you think you can defeat your competition.

When we were focusing on creating our clothing business, we wanted to create something meaningful. Additionally, we wanted to create something that would ultimately stand out compared with every other company we’d seen in the industry. This eventually led me to differentiate and focus on innovating what was already in our market. If you want to succeed, take it from us: You need to determine and figure out what your competitor offers that you can beat and defeat.

Organic growth accelerates when you become a creator

Organic growth is ultimately the most meaningful because it allows you to create conversation and value while remaining competitive with your competition. But there’s something else that many people often forget.

There are multiple kinds of organic growth facilitators in this world. Some people stick to diversification, while others focus on offering something of value that is a necessary product to people. Finally, some people, like our business and myself, become creators.

Why creators stand out and defeat the competition

You can choose any path you’d like to accelerate organic growth, but ultimately, I see the most value in becoming a creator. As a creator, our business built something that truly did stand out compared to other competitors. We focused on innovation first, then differentiated and ensured that there would be immense value offered in whatever we did in the industry. As a startup, I can offer you so much advice, but this is ultimately one of the most important: If you want to see success, inspire people, and become a creator of your own.

You have the power to create value

Creators are essential and stand out because we build value with our products. We value each service we offer, and new business models will be created. We create a massive following and see our company take off in ways we never thought possible. Organic growth accelerates when you are a creator, and this is because you find a way to inspire people.

Be an underdog and stand out

People like a success story. Everybody wants to root for the underdog, and quite honestly, my business was the underdog, but we were also extreme innovators in what we were able to do. If you want to see success in the industry you are part of, then I urge you to consider what you can create to stand out.

Related: 4 Surprisingly Simple Ways To Stand Out From Your Competition

Revisit your ideas and improve them

If you have already begun a product, differentiate yourself and re-envision what you’ve already done. I guarantee you that when you think of something impactful and creative, others will see it and flock to you and your business. They will believe in your mission and see you as inspirational.

Focus your success on your organic growth

No matter your path, you need to consider certain factors if you are a startup. Remaining competitive and finding a way to differentiate yourself honestly is the ultimate goal of organic growth.

For us, especially with how significantly our business grew in such a short time, we don’t owe anybody anything, and it’s a risk we took. We chose to put everything into creating something nobody had ever done, and even in the end, it was far more tiring and more prolonged than we ever envisioned. Still, I promise you that the journey will be worth it in the end.

Hopefully, I provided you with the insight and inspiration needed to take that leap and take a risk. No matter what business you run, I hope you present something nobody has ever seen before, but also attempt to inspire people to follow you, no matter where your journey takes you.



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Elon Musk Says That Twitter Will Continue to Offer Free API Access to Good Bot Accounts

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Twitter’s Cancelling Free Access to its API, Which Will Shut Down Hundreds of Apps

It’s honestly difficult to make any assessment of Elon Musk’s time in charge of Twitter as yet, because while he has made some bad decisions, he’s also reversed course on most of them, and while he continues to try things that seemingly have no chance of working out, he’s also not taking past precedent as definitive.

Which is maybe a good thing?

In the latest example of Musk’s shoot first, ask questions later management style, Elon has seemingly reversed the unpopular decision to charge for all usage of Twitter’s API, at least in some applications

As per Elon’s tweet, Twitter will continue to allow ‘bots providing good content’ to access Twitter’s API for free, which looked set to be one of the key losses of Twitter’s recent decision to paywall all API access.

Though much of the angst in this case came down to poor communication – last week, Twitter announced that, starting February 9th, it would be cutting off free access to its API, which is the key connector that many third party apps and Twitter’s bots use to function.

That triggered a strong response from the developer community, though a day later, Elon further explained that:

This wasn’t an official announcement, nor was it communicated via the Twitter Developers account. This was Elon, in an exchange with another user, randomly providing valuable context that would have avoided much of the angst and concern that came with the original Twitter Dev statement.

Now, the bigger question is whether $100 is any disincentive to spammers, who likely make way more than that from bot activity. But regardless, $100 is likely affordable for most of the third-party apps which looked set to lose the most from this update in policy, so it’s actually nowhere near as bad as the first announcement seemed.

It’s just bad communication, and given that Twitter no longer has a comms department, that makes sense.

But it’s also the perfect microcosm of the Elon experience, which he both benefits and suffers from, though maybe not in equal measure.

The key thing to note is that Elon loves attention. His one undisputable skill is that he knows how to make headlines, how to get people looking his way, which is why his main money maker, Tesla, has never needed a comms department either. They just let Elon say whatever he likes, good or bad, and the press comes running – and in this respect, you can see how his approach to such announcements at Twitter actually helps them get wider coverage and awareness, as opposed to them being outlined through regular channels.

But is that a good thing? Getting the developer community offside seems like unnecessary collateral damage, while the negativity this creates also seems less conducive to functional working arrangements with external partners and suppliers.

It seems like that could be harmful for his companies, long term – but then again, the more transparent nature of such, and his willingness to change course in a responsive way, could also be beneficial. Maybe?

Essentially, what we’re getting with Twitter 2.0 is a window into Elon Musk’s ‘hardcore’ management style, which is not entirely reliant on internal debate and decision-making, and also takes into account audience response, and factors that into its process.

Which is actually, probably, better, at least in some ways. I mean, Twitter, in times past, took months, even years to gain any traction on updates, before rolling them out, then it was forced to stick with them, even if they were unpopular, due to the amount of time invested.

With 70% fewer staff, Musk doesn’t have that luxury, but he has repeatedly shown a willingness to listen to the case for and against each update, and shift tack accordingly.

So while he has made some bad decisions, and will continue to do so, Twitter is moving fast. It’s breaking things too, but it’s still running, and Musk seems confident that he can convert it into a revenue positive business sometime soon.

And now, your weather bots, your system updates, your automated accounts that let you know what you want via tweet, will continue to operate. Unless Elon changes his mind again.



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